MADRID – If you live in Spain or are a regular there, you are probably familiar with the often economically priced ‘menú del día’ or the daily menu. As part of a new proposal, the government urgently recommended removing wine and beer from these menus and replacing it with water.
However, after much protest and criticism from the hospitality sector, among other things, it was eventually scrapped. Had it gone through, it would have been one of the most striking proposals in an ambitious government plan to improve the health of Spaniards through social policies, social awareness, and improvements in health care. The plan had been approved on Wednesday by the Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System (CISNS).
Promotion of Mediterranean Diet
Health Minister Darías is leading this strategy in which the Mediterranean diet will be promoted as a model for healthy eating for the heart. But “without the use of alcohol”. In that context, the proposal was drawn up not to include wine or beer, but free tap water on the daily menu of restaurants. However, this received much opposition.
In addition to restaurants “offering standard and free tap water on their menus”, one of the important measures promoted by the ministry is to install water sources in all types of public, educational, health, or sports facilities.
Better taxes for healthier food
Other measures specifically targeted the price and marketing of unhealthy products. This involved;
- excluding processed products and alcohol from vending machines
- “advocating tax and pricing policies to promote healthy eating”
- improving the food supply of schools, hospitals, or sports centres.
Access to healthy products must be improved
The strategy is in line with a message that Consumers Minister Garzón launched a few months ago. At that time, he linked social class to the consumption of ultra-processed foods. That is why it urgently calls on the Health Council to promote mechanisms that “facilitate access to healthy products for people in an unfavourable economic position”.
With the measures, the Ministry of Health wants to reduce the number of people with cardiovascular diseases. This is the main cause of death in Spain with almost 120,000 deaths in 2020. In this regard, the ministry establishes a clear relationship between the risk of cardiovascular disease and two risk factors; smoking and being a woman. Based on this, two action lines have been established. With regard to tobacco, the Ministry plans to reduce the prevalence of smoking in Spain to below 10% by 2040.
Further development of the tobacco law
In addition, it is an intention to further develop the tobacco law that is currently under discussion. The current proposal is to ban smoking on terraces and in cars, but in the new proposal, the ministry goes one step further.
In the strategic plan, the government also calls for “extension of smoke-free areas and promotion of smoke-free homes”. To this end, action must be taken to ensure that people no longer smoke in homes.
Specific approach for heart disease in women
Cardiovascular diseases are more common in women than in men, according to various studies, which is why the ministry wants to launch a specific approach for the female gender.
This includes, for example, the development of protocols for optimising specific heart disease treatments in women; making protocols with a gender perspective or investigating the causes that lead to this situation.
Cardiovascular care must be improved
Furthermore, the health system must do its best to improve cardiovascular care, both in primary care and in hospitals. In this regard, the aim is to set up more cardiac rehabilitation programs, to give priority to the functioning of care networks for myocardial infarction, or to improve the detection and diagnosis of heart failure.